Thousands still missing out on free flu jabs in Northamptonshire

Doctors plea to avoid double whammy of surge in flu and Covid cases in hospitals

Doctors in Northamptonshire have issued another plea to thousands of people not to miss out on getting free flu jabs.

The NHS boosted numbers of free vaccinations available in a bid to avoid extra pressure on hospitals from people suffering with winter illnesses.

But the county is still falling short of its targets in three out of four traditional categories of the population which are eligible.

Anybody under-65 with a long-term health condition, pregnant women and toddlers aged two and three are all being called for flu jabs by local GPs.

But Public Health Northamptonshire revealed less than half have so far been vaccinated.

Flu vaccine is one of the tools in Public Health officials toolkit to help manage overall pressure in the health system and keep residents safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Annapurna Sen said: “Respiratory illnesses can be extremely serious, eve fatal. Those with co-infection of the two viruses are more at risk of severe complications or death.

Medics are warning flu presents an extra danger to the public this winter. Photo: Getty Images

"Most cases of co-infection are in older people and those at ‘high risk’.

"There are around 88,500 people in Northamptonshire aged under 65 with one or more long-term conditions who are eligible for a free NHS vaccination yet by December 7

December only 43,773 of these had been vaccinated.

"We need another 22,582 people to have their vaccination to protect themselves as well as the wider population.”

How numbers on the uptake of free flu jabs across Northamptonshire looked on November 28

Latest figures issued at Friday's weekly Covid-19 press conference, using data up to November 28, showed 1,592 out of 5,599 pregnant woman and 8,652 out of 17,838 two and three-year-olds have so far been vaccinated. All areas are set a target of immunising 75 per cent of those eligible.

Dr Azhar Ali, who is Respiratory Disease Clinical Lead for NHS Northamptonshire CCG as well as a local GP, added: “The flu jab is essential for people with a long term health condition which makes them more at risk of catching flu and developing serious complications.

"For most healthy people, seasonal flu is mostly unpleasant. However, if you have a serious health condition such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or if you have a

BMI over 40, you are at particular risk from the more serious effects of flu.

"This can lead to complications, prolonged spells off work, hospital admission and in some cases even death."

Anyone in doubt about whether they qualify for a free vaccination should contact their GP or visit a local pharmacy for a vaccination.”